Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Queen's Christmas message

In her Christmas message Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth highlighted the importance of family. This was taken up by the media, but what they did not choose to highlight was the uncompromising references Her Majesty made to Christmas being a Christian festival and to the Christan faith. (The emphasis in the following quotation is mine).

"The importance of family has, of course, come home to Prince Philip and me personally this year with the marriages of two of our grandchildren, each in their own way a celebration of the God-given love that binds a family together.

For many, this Christmas will not be easy. With our armed forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones at home. The bereaved and the lonely will find it especially hard. And, as we all know, the world is going through difficult times. All this will affect our celebration of this great Christian festival.

Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.’

'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord."

God bless Her Majesty the Queen.

Picture courtesy of the BBC.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

At the manger with Sister Wendy Beckett

Here is the Baby Christ, newborn, eyes not yet open and questioning. They are shut in slumber and in the security that only a baby experiences. Mary looks at him in wonder, her long, slender hands laid tentatively on either side of His sleeping face. She has the strong, majestic profile of a woman able to bear the weight of her exceptional vocation. If she holds the little Jesus with a hesitant tenderness, so does her husband hold her. Joseph’s arms reach out, shyly and lovingly to his enraptured young wife. He is enraptured too. The couple are fully sharing in the overwhelming emotion of wonder known to all new parents.

Every baby is a miracle: what can one say of this child who is ‘the image of the invisible God’? Tricker has caught an indescribable look in Joseph’s face, one of pride, joy, amazement, awe. The parents’ heads touch, expressing a closeness and commitment to the Child and He is supported by them both. Joseph’s head touches gently on Mary’s, and the ass’s head nudges gently on Joseph’s shoulder. The ass, like the ox, is not found in the Gospels, but Christian tradition has always afforded them a welcome space in the stable of Christ’s birth. The animals represent the physical reality of the Nativity, and also its poverty.

Jesus was born under the humblest of circumstances and His cradle was the manger from which the animals fed. One day Jesus would tell His friends that the bread that He was giving them was His body: ‘they were to take and eat’. The manger of His birth prefigures the Eucharist. This is one of the most mystical paintings in the Christ Journey. Some years ago Tricker took as his theme the Catacombs, with all their secrecy and mystery. He recalls those hidden places of prayer in the curve of the stone arch above Mary’s head and in the indefinable atmosphere of holiness. There is hardly any colour here. All is mysterious and translucent.

Tricker is profoundly aware that the birth of Jesus, and Jesus Himself, are mysteries too great for us to comprehend. We are that ass, there at the side, roped and muzzled, ah! but present. We look on wide-eyed, aware of a Reality beyond our scope, but believing. In the lovely delicacy of this work, its gentle blues, its luminous whites, Tricker indicates that the mystery is beyond the scope of Joseph and Mary also. Yet they are prepared as we must be, we donkey-folk, to accept that mystery and live by its wonder. This is the fulfillment of all possible human hopes, and it happens in a hidden place amidst genuine poverty. Tricker’s work here is so ethereal that it hardly seems there, yet its ‘there-ness’ is the only thing that really matters.

Text © ST PAULS from The Christ Journey
Picture © Nigel Noyes

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas and New Year Opening Times

Our bookshops will close early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (please check with your local shop for the actual time) and will remain closed on 26th & 27th December and Monday 2nd January.

As 31st December is the end of our trading year, stocktaking will take place on the following dates when the respective shop will be closed

Birmingham 28th-29th December
London 3rd-5th January
Hinsley Hall 6th January
Leeds 7th-8th January
York 9th-10th January

We thank all our customers for their support throughout 2011 and look forward to being of service in 2012.

In the meantime, we wish you all a very happy, holy and blessed Christmas.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Teach us, Mary,
to believe, to hope, to love with you;
show us the way that leads to peace,
the way to the Kingdom of Jesus.

You, Star of Hope, who wait for us anxiously in
the everlasting light of the eternal Homeland,
shine upon us and guide us through daily events,
now and at the hour of our death.

Text: Pope Benedict’s prayer at the Spanish Steps for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 8th December 2007.
Text included in Mary - Spiritual Thoughts Series, Pope Benedict XVI published by ST PAULS.
Picture: La Purisima Immaculada Concepcion by Murillo.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Pushkin and the media

News of Pushkin's memoirs has started to appear in the media. ITV Central News interviewed Pushkin's Human (Fr Anton Guziel) on the day of the launch of the book. This is now available to view on You Tube

This morning, Charles Nove of BBC Radio Oxford did an interview with Fr Anton which can be listened to here (skip to 1 hr 53 minutes into the programme).

Friday, 2 December 2011

Pushkin is becoming a best seller

In less than 3 weeks since its release, Pushkin's memoirs have sold nearly 1000 copies. Not quite a Harry Potter statistic, but very good indeed for ST PAULS and for the Birmingham Oratory (the recipient of royalties from sales of the book).

If you are at a loss as to what to buy someone for Christmas, Pushkin the Pontifical Puss is the purrfect solution!

If you haven't been following Pushkin on our blog you can catch up here, here and here. Other bloggers have been following him, as you can see here, here and from His Hermeneuticalness here. Today the Birmingham Mail has paid Pushin due reverence.

Before going to Mass this Sunday, tune in to your local BBC radio station's Sunday morning religious programme and you will hear Pushkin's human (Fr Anton Guziel) talking about the book.